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Nederlog


  July
22, 2014
Crisis: Decline of justice, Threats, Greenwald, Tracking
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1.
Government agents 'directly involved' in most
     high-profile US terror plots

2. The five biggest threats to human existence 
3. Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment Is Grotesque
     but Not Original

4.
Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually
     Impossible to Block


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of July 22. It is a crisis log.

There also were only four items that I found, and considered serious enough:

One on the deteriorization of law as practised in the U.S., especially of persons accused of "terrorism", but not only; another rather philosophical one on the five biggest threats to human existence, that I deal fairly seriously with, also with a long footnote on my own philosophy (that is quite rare); a treatment of Glenn Greenwald on Netanyahu (I think it is a bit unwise, but indeed I do not like Netanyahu and his policies at all); and the mentioning of a new tracking device that is almost impossible to block.

This also is a smaller article than the previous Nederlog, but still over 40 Kb, and I do not mention my M.E. especially because it still is too warm for me (though in brief: I am continuing what I am taking and it goes reasonably well, apart from the heat).

1. Government agents 'directly involved' in most high-profile US terror plots

The first item is an article by Spencer Ackerman on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

"In some cases the FBI may have created terrorists out of law-abiding individuals by suggesting the idea of taking terrorist action or encouraging the target to act," the report alleges.

I say, though not really. But notice how the law rapidly deteriorates, in the U.S.:
  • entrapment is dishonest
  • sting operations are dishonest
  • those doing this are kept secret by the government
  • secret evidence (which is nonsense in a public court)
  • extensive pretrial detentions (quite unjust)
  • convictions based on something else (plea bargaining, for example)
There is rather a lot more in the article, but I merely notice that the practice of decent law deteriorates in the U.S., especially but not only in supposed "terrorist" cases, where "habeas corpus" and "innocent until convicted" have nearly completely disappeared, and there are lots of things that simply should not happen in a decent public court.

2. The five biggest threats to human existence 

The next item is an article by Anders Sandberg on The Guardian:

I do not really know this is part of the crisis, but it is part of philosophy, and I suppose most of all I am a - logical, scientifically realistic, rather skeptical and somewhat cynical [2] - philosopher, since I have spend most of my life learning about philosophy. So I will treat it. It starts as follows:

In the daily hubbub of current “crises” facing humanity, we forget about the many generations we hope are yet to come. Not those who will live 200 years from now, but 1,000 or 10,000 years from now. I use the word “hope” because we face risks, called existential risks, that threaten to wipe out humanity. These risks are not just for big disasters, but for the disasters that could end history.

These risks remain understudied. There is a sense of powerlessness and fatalism about them. People have been talking apocalypses for millennia, but few have tried to prevent them.

Really now? One has to make some assumptions, but here there are quite a lot.

First, the crisis I am writing about is not a "crisis", and it may either end all of mankind (in case of a nuclear war, is the most likely possibility), or it may end most of mankind (in case of protracted wars not terminated by a major nuclear war), or it may end up as a new feudalism in which a very few rich men own everything, and nearly everybody is a totally known, predictable, and controllable cipher (that will soon also look smaller and uglier than the few rich, if the regime lasts a few generations). Then again, I agree there are far more "crises" than there are real crises.

Second, I do not think Sandberg has the age to recall Bertrand Russell (who died in the beginning of 1970) but his movement against nuclear war was much concerned about the future of mankind, and also was rather popular.

Third, I do not think humans living far into the future - 200, 1000 or even 10,000 years ahead - are very relevant. They may not exist, and if they do exist they will almost certainly have arrived where they are by a path that none of us can see or predict. What one needs to be concerned about, if one is concerned about "the future of mankind", are the present three generations (grandparents, parents, children); that these survive, or at least the parents and their children do, and all without major war; that the civilized ideas that have been developed so far survive; and also that there get to be fewer people (and preferably smarter ones) than there are at present, also by peaceful means.

Fourth, I do not know that the "risks" - e.g. of a complete end of humans, or of how mankind will develop - have been "understudied". Many persons and associations have studied "the future". Some of it was legitimate, but most of it - to the best of my knowledge, and I am thinking of futurologists and think tanks - were not really based on solid or probable knowledge, but were in fact a kind of propaganda for or sometimes against particular futures: it was poltics disguised as science, much rather than real science.

There is more I could comment on and that I don't quite agree with, but I will turn now to the "five biggest threats" Sandberg discerns, that I will first list, without any of the intervening text (of which there is a fair amount):

Nuclear war
Bioengineered pandemic
Superintelligence
Nanotechnology
Unknown unknowns

As Sandberg himself indicates, there are "caveats" and "the list is not final". I am more skeptical than he is, it seems, but the list does contain some considerable risks.

Then again, I think the "Unknown unknowns" should not have been on the list: The list should be about known threats, not unknown threats, which just cannot be done anything about. (And there always is the unknown unknown.)

Also, it is not so much superintelligent computers that I fear (either they are simply better than human beings are, and that is the end of human beings, except perhaps in a zoo, or they are not, not because they are not smart in some sense, but because they are not alive, have no desires, no interests, no concerns and no values, except for what has been put there by programmers, but which does not evolve) as I fear the abuse of present computers by big corporations and the state. We have reached the level that this threat is very serious, but this is also less about computing itself as it is about regulations, safeguards and human rights.

The other three risks are quite real, although again this is so especially because they are subject to humans who use these technical possibilities for their own ends, and whose ends may be quite other than the ends of those they oppose, and also quite other than the ends of those who neither oppose nor agree.

Anyway... from my point of view, the presently biggest threats to human survival and to human civilization (which is quite different) are a nuclear war and the NSA, that seeks to know all and control everyone: If the NSA succeeds, it will be the end of civilization as we know it, and introduce a kind of feudalism that benefits the rich, and does away with the rights and with the development of the poor and the middle classes.

3. Netanyahu’s ‘Telegenically Dead’ Comment Is Grotesque but Not Original

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday, on CNN, addressing worldwide sympathy for the civilian victims of Israeli violence in Gaza:

They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. They want the more dead, the better.

Joseph Goebbels, November 16, 1941, essay in Das Reich, addressing Germany sympathy for German Jews forced to wear yellow stars:

The Jews gradually are having to depend more and more on themselves, and have recently found a new trick. They knew the good-natured German Michael in us, always ready to shed sentimental tears for the injustice done to them. One suddenly has the impression that the Berlin Jewish population consists only of little babies whose childish helplessness might move us, or else fragile old ladies. The Jews send out the pitiable. They may confuse some harmless souls for a while, but not us. We know exactly what the situation is.

I say. I do not like Netanyahu at all; I think he is grossly, systematically misbehaving, from my own - completely non-religious - point of view; I do not like the Israeli policies against the Palestinians at all; but I also do not know whether throwing Netanyahu and Goebbels on the same heap is wise, even if almost directly under the above Greenwald writes:

(1) To compare aspects of A and B is not to posit that A and B are identical (...)

That is so, and I also agree with Greenwald that "the Godwin" is very much overabused, and often means that you may not refer to history at all, which indeed is utter nonsense.

However... one relevant difference between Netanyahu and Goebbels, though I think that both are bad men, who should never have come to lead, is that Goebbels helped engineer the murder of some 12 million civilians, including 6 million Jews, and Netanyahu did not. [3] 

(Also, there are - at present - 422 comments to this, but I neither read nor comment on views of commenters who hide in anonymity and about whom I do not know anything. And I think it is a strange activity, to be commenting anonymously on anonymous commenters. [4])

4. Meet the Online Tracking Device That is Virtually Impossible to Block

The next item is an article by Julia Angwin on ProPublica:

This starts as follows:

A new, extremely persistent type of online tracking is shadowing visitors to thousands of top websites, from WhiteHouse.gov to YouPorn.com.

First documented in a forthcoming paper by researchers at PrincetonKU Leuven University in Belgium, this type of tracking, called canvas fingerprinting, works by instructing the visitor’s Web browser to draw a hidden image. Because each computer draws the image slightly differently, the images can be used to assign each user’s device a number that uniquely identifies it. University and

Like other tracking tools, canvas fingerprints are used to build profiles of users based on the websites they visit — profiles that shape which ads, news articles, or other types of content are displayed to them.

But fingerprints are unusually hard to block: They can’t be prevented by using standard Web browser privacy settings or using anti-tracking tools such as AdBlock Plus.

I say. You owe this way of tracking you to AddThis.com, and it can be found on
5 percent of the top 100.000 websites.

The makers also assure the people that 'No, no, no: they will not abuse this (Trust Us TM)' and may not continue it, because it only succeeds in 90% of the cases.

---------------------------------

Notes
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] I do think this is a fair description of my philosophical self:
logical, scientifically realistic, rather skeptical and somewhat cynical. Here are some brief explanations.

I like mathematical logic a lot, and have studied a great amount of it, and hold it to be critically important for real philosophy, but I also agree this is for the few only, at least so far as the formulas and mathematical books are concerned. Also, I know much of it is misdirected, and little of the considerable amount of work that has been done gets known: too technical, for one thing, or too specific technical problems for another.

I am a scientific realist, in that I hold that all human beings live in one natural reality, and the best - though by far not the only - way to get to know it is by the methods of real science. The "real" is thrown in because considerable amounts of what is pushed as science is in fact pseudoscience, partial science, etc. Also, there is considerably more, but the only other road that is, in principle, valid to find real knowledge is by way of literature, and here I mean the great literature, and not the 99.999% that is not: Lots of things about being human may be learned from Sophocles, Lucretius, Montaigne, Shakespeare, Pope, Dr. Johnson, William Hazlitt, Multatuli, but they are rare writers, of which there appears at most a few in every century.

Then I tend to be skeptical, mostly in an academic sense, probably best stated by Hume: A scientific realist knows that most he believes is at best probable and not certain, which also means that most that is asserted to be knowledge is not knowledge. I also think we know things, but the empirical things we do know - lots of technology, for example - is also partial knowledge, even though it works, and the underpinnings also tend to be uncertain, even if what they imply very probably is true, in some not yet fully comprehended sense.

Finally, I am somewhat of a cynic, but this needs immediate qualification: First, I mean it in the very oldfashioned sense of the cynical philosophers of ca. 2000 years ago - such as Lucian - who decided that much of their civilization was based on falsehoods and maintained by personal deceptions and pretensions of nearly everyone, which was then true and is now true, and should be countered by doubting all and relying on one's own strengths, though this often meant a partial withdrawal from ordinary society. Second, I should add that the cynics have been mostly not well understood (and much of their work has been intentionally destroyed, especially by Christians). Indeed, I may try to do something about it by translating parts from a - quite good - book published in the DDR in 1971, about Greek philosophy, but I make no promises.

[3] Maybe I should remind the reader that my father and mother were members of the quite small Dutch resistance against the Nazis (the real resistance, which tended to be either communists or Christian), as was my father's father; and that my father and his father were convicted as "political terrorists" to the concentration camp, that my grandfather did not survive, and where my father spent more than 3 years and 9 months: I do have a right to speak about these things.

[4] "But you are anonymous! Liar! Fascist! Dirty terrorist!": Yes, my last name is not Maartensz. I adopted the alias in 1988, to assure that I would not be removed a second time from the university, because of what I thought (and think) and published, and I maintained it because I have now for 26 years, totally fruitlessly, is true, complained that the mayors and aldermen of Amsterdam protect the illegal drugsdealers who terrorized me for nearly 4 years, threatened me with murder, dealt in hard and in soft drugs, and who tried to gas me and nearly succeeded. The Amsterdam mayors and aldermen have protected the Amsterdam drugsmafia for 26 years now, since I first protested, since when the Dutch drugsmafia has turned over at least 260 billion dollars of soft drugs alone, all calculated from the only parliamentary report that was done about it - after which the main maker mysteriously died, since when nobody except me talks about the illegal dealing of drugs, that is Holland's most profitable and largest industry.

I think I do have good reasons for an alias (I want to live, and not be shot in Amsterdam, where many are being shot, indeed for reasons relating to drugs, normally) and I do not know of anyone else anywhere who has these reasons.

And yes, I have been called "a fascist" and "a terrorist" many times, by my academic opponents, who were
quasi-marxist incompetent liars and parasites, out for a very soft existence. None of them produced anything of value, and most did not write anything. Their incomes were all 15 times mine, at least, and they did have extremely soft, easy, very well-paid lives, compared to mine. They also all were more stupid than I am, and less honest.


About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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